Fat Shaming Takes Center Stage: Let’s Do Something About It

Fat Shaming

October 1, 2016   90 Comments

This is not a political blog and today is no exception. But, I am sure many of you noticed that our presidential debate brought about a discussion of fat shaming.

The story, in case you have been ignoring the whole thing, is that Donald Trump called Alicia Machado (then Miss Universe) "Miss Piggy" because she gained weight after the competition. In my view, this has nothing to do with politics (who you should choose for president) and everything to do with what is socially acceptable.

No one, I don’t care if she is Miss Universe or a UPS driver, should be called “Miss Piggy” if she gains weight over the course of her job. It is demeaning and degrading to be shamed for your weight (or made fun of for any of your body parts).

I have written about this subject on and off for years. Once, as a way to combat the monolithic body images of magazines, I put up a photo of myself in a bikini. My daughter was humiliated by not being able to fit into skinny jeans and I wrote about how using the word “skinny” sends the wrong message to our kids.

Do I know a single woman who hasn’t been shamed about a body part? No. It is either her breasts are too big (or too small), legs are too short, hips are too wide, too fat or too skinny….You name it!

You really can’t win unless you are a super model – and some of those models have shared their problems with eating disorders (not exactly winning the body image Olympics if you have trouble nourishing yourself). There are so many stories regarding the pressure for models to remain a certain size. For example, one model admitted to buying a Snickers bar, tossing it out, and smelling the wrapper to satiate her hunger.

Our current culture has put us at war with our bodies. We can stop perpetuating the battle through the generations by sharing our pain and calling it what it is – body shaming, bullying, and downright wrong.

I will start. Way back in graduate school (when I was in my 20s), I met a guy who I thought was cute. As I was shy about my interest, I asked a friend to ask him what he thought of me. My friend reported back that he said,

“Her? I wouldn’t go out with her. She is too fat.”

Ouch.

But, was it an “ouch” or did I just dodge a bullet of dating an insensitive, shallow moron? At the time, I was swimming about a mile every other day and my stomach was as flat as a pancake (never happened again). My body type would have been called “athletic” but that really doesn’t matter, does it?

The message – that I am fat - because I am not a thin body type – has been reflected back to me many times. Did I get an eating disorder? No, but it has affected the way that I look in the mirror (sucking in my tummy for example).

It is painful and even more so because it so unnecessary. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and many different body types are beautiful and should be celebrated – not denigrated because they don’t fit an ideal vision created by a culture obsessed with youth and thin body types.

I challenge you to comment below on your experience with body shaming and what you hope to do (or have done) to change things.

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First 20 Comments: [ see all 90 ]

I did department store modeling back in the early 70's as a teenager. I was 5 feet 10 inches and was 115 pounds. I was told my hips were too big and I needed to lose weight. I did not pursue a modeling career and I am glad that I didn't. I like to eat!!

on October 1, 2016

Laura glad you didn't slide into starving yourself!
People should just keep themselves reasonably fit if you are able to(this makes you feel good to begin with) and at a weight they feel comfortable at.
He is obnoxious!

on October 1, 2016

My older sister was a bully: she fat shamed me continually, even though I was considerably underweight. I didn't understand projection at the time, of course. Pam was overweight: she obviously felt better if she accused me of what she hated about herself. I went through extensive therapy over the years to undo the damage caused by that bully. I also totally cut myself off from the toxic bully, my sister. Therapy saved my life, and I hope anyone who suffers the scars of fat shaming gets professional help.

Toxic people are more damaging than breathing toxic fumes: one kills the body, the other kills the spirit. The overweight man who spent this week fat shaming a woman who wasn't even overweight, is like my toxic sister: cut them off totally and allow them to have NO power over you or anyone else. Call fat shaming what it is: physical, psychological and spiritual ABUSE. Call fat shamers what they really are: perverted abusers.

PS My sister has a daughter who weighs well over 350 pounds. She was unable to escape my sister's toxic 'fumes' and it will kill her.

on October 1, 2016

I see enough of this on the television. I am unsubscribing! Best keep you politics to yourself when it comes to a site like this.

on October 1, 2016

34 years ago I was FIFTY pounds thinner than I am now. My EX husband told me I needed to work out to lose my gut! Comments like those over the years caused me to become obsessed with not eating but because I destroyed my metabolism I continued to gain. But today, at 175lbs I feel fabulous. Started taking my health into consideration and am slowly seeing the numbers drop. We didn't have such a supportive sisterhood in those days. I am determined to support my daughter and granddaughter so they can live proud of their beautiful bodies regardless of the size tag in their jeans...

on October 1, 2016

I will weigh 117 as soon as Don Trump does. How does it feel to be in a 70 year old body Donald? A group of female senators recently tweeted there should be a daily weigh in at the Capitol.
Darla B...

on October 1, 2016

Thank you for this reminder! I have always been fat, chunky, overweight or whatever name you give it. I was bullied in one way or another all my life. I am still overweight but have been to weight watchers, lost 80 lbs and gained back 15...weight is a struggle but it no longer defines me.

on October 1, 2016

Not a political blog?????? Enjoyed your postings in the past but just unsubscribed. Looking for healthy recipes not political opinions.

on October 1, 2016

I am 63 and after a lifetime of low self esteem due to weight issues, I decided to just get healthy. Started walking, ate much less junk food, and started loving myself. I accepted my body type, lost 90lbs, and discovered how shallow toxic, weight obsessed people are. I am so sorry I spent my life thinking weight mattered! Health, happiness, true joy, those things matter. Accept yourself!

on October 1, 2016

While I appreciate your protest against "fat", I feel this Is the wrong time to have this discussion. This political race is clogged with enough non political subjects. I feel this website is not the right place to get poticially involved . Disappointed . Let's keep the real issues in politics.

on October 1, 2016

I agree, none of that has to do with him being president and he for sure should not have been name calling, she however, was under contract to maintain a weight similar to what she was when she won Miss Universe for the year of her reign. It was her job for that period of time and she walked right into that knowing what was required of her and she chose to change her eating/exercising habits. I for one, would never want that as a job, no matter the akolades.

on October 1, 2016

Snack-Girl, I love your perspective! If we all shared it, we would be able to live as humans are supposed to - without constant pressure of conforming to others' ideals. We would be able to see each other as unique individuals instead of seeing the shortcomings and 'flaws' of the physical bodies. With more awareness from advocates like you, this body shaming trend just might change. What a better world it would be!

on October 1, 2016

I agree with Rachel the poster above. Contractually an agreement at that time that she needed to fulfill. She was the one strutting across the stage in a swimsuit. Is that wrong? Of course, but 20 years ago it was the norm and that's how pageants were won. Based on ones looks and hers changed. Not taking either side here, just as I see it.

on October 1, 2016

This is ridiculous. There is no proof that Donald Trump said anything of the like to that Miss Universe, who is now, once again, getting 15 minutes of fame. This is typical spin and obviously the author does not follow politics or the truth to know that this is a fabricated story. Show me a video or audio of Mr. Trump saying what you claim. If anyone shamed women throughout their life it is Hillary Clinton. I am also unsubbing. If the presentation of "facts" was true, sure, I'd stay. I don't need to contribute to anyone who lies and that includes Hungry Girl. Do your research before you slander anyone. Good bye. #Trump2016 #MediaLies

on October 1, 2016

I am unsubscribing now.

on October 1, 2016

Thank you for this discussion. I was fat shamed as a child and, even though I lost that weight in my teens, I still look at my body and wish I was skinnier. I am 61 yr old and in decent shape but fat shaming in my youth left me with a lifetime of not liking my body. Thanks Snack Girl for taking the chance with talking about this at this time when it is front and centre on television.

on October 1, 2016

Thanks for standing up to speak truth to power that hurts and abuses. I wonder why so many women are afraid to do so?

on October 1, 2016

Thank you for this timely column. I don't always agree with you but unlike some of those above, I think an open and honest discussion is needed. I don't think that we need proof to know that Mr Trump holds some pretty unpleasant opinions about women - he supplies it on a daily basis. But even so, your point is that no one should feel shame about their body, whether they are thin and fit or not. The only way to change the world is to bring light to the darkness- we owe that to those who come after us, our daughters, sons and grandchildren.

on October 1, 2016

Thanks for you're post. I never comment but felt compelled to do so at this time. Not only am I not unsubscribing, I'm having friends subscribe! Donald Trunp is a bully who has joined society in the idea that women's worth is based on weight. Good for all who feel health and self esteem are what's important! Hillary Clinton has been advocating for women her entire proessional career and I hope continues to do so. Keep posting snack girl, we enjoy you and loved you're bikini post !!!!

on October 1, 2016

I believe the tweets that trump makes are evidence that he said insulting things about her. http://www.npr.org/2016/09/30/496050913/trump-again-attacks-miss-universe-contestant
He was obviously pissed that a woman he considered "his" (by way of owning the miss universe pageant) was supporting Hillary. So he took any easy shot he could take to try to demean her.
I find it hilarious that many women found this post insulting and have unsubscribed. I support that you brought up this subject. What if it had been a popular athlete who had said something like this? Would so many people be unsubscribing then? No, people would have condemned him.
I don't like Hillary much either, but I don't understand how anyone thinks that a man who says and think so many idiotic and hurtful things is the right person to lead this country. His perspective may be "refreshing" to some, but I just see a power-hungry attention whore.
If I've ever been fat shamed, I ignored it. I am more focused on how I feel and less on what I weight. Why do people think it's okay to judge someone by their weight? Not everyone can control their weight so easily (like hormonal or thyroid issues). Have you watched the new show "This is us"? One of the main characters is overweight and trying to lose. I like having someone who isn't super skinny as a main character, but so far she's only been defined as a fat woman who wants to lose weight, without much more to her personality.

on October 1, 2016

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